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J Med Virol. 1997 Nov;53(3):205-11.

Identification and typing of molluscum contagiosum virus in clinical specimens by polymerase chain reaction.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which enables the detection of molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) genomes in either fresh or formalin-fixed clinical specimens is described. The primers used were designed to amplify a 167 bp region of the 3.8 kbp HindIII fragment K of the MCV 1 genome. The ability of this PCR to detect three common MCV types (1, 1v and 2) in clinical specimens was confirmed using frozen extracts from 75 molluscum lesions, and digests of single sections of 11 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded lesions; all of which had been previously typed by Southern hybridisation. In addition, 2 specimens previously negative by hybridisation were shown to be positive for MCV DNA by PCR. Confirmation of the identity of the PCR products and distinction between the two major MCV types (MCV 1/1v versus MCV 2) was achieved by comparison of the results of cleavage with the restriction endonucleases Hhal and Sacl. Sequencing of the PCR products revealed complete homology between MCV 1 and 1v, but minor nucleotide variations between MCV 1/1v and MCV 2 were identified. As well as providing a highly sensitive means of diagnosis, the technique may also prove useful for investigations into the pathogenesis, epidemiology and natural history of molluscum contagiosum infection.

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